Buying Country Real Estate

Buying real estate in any situation can be overwhelming. Buying cottage real estate can be downright frustrating –not only do you have to ask the right questions, but you have to know what the answers mean. I have tried my best to compile what I deem to be important issues future buyers should be aware of.


Is it accessible only by water? This is usually a cheaper option until you add in the cost of buying and maintaining a boat. If you are looking for a 4 season getaway you will want a cottage with year-round road access

If the road is not accessible all year, your insurance company and mortgage lender will charge you more.

Lake Size

What water activities can take place will depend on the size of the lake. The smaller the lake – the more  restrictions.


Even if your cottage fronts on to the water, you might not have ownership of the land up to the lake. Generally, the first 66 feet fronting onto the lake is owned by the local municipality and is called the shore road allowance.

You cannot build anything on that 66 foot piece of land – you may be able to buy the land from the municipality. Some cottage owners have found out after their purchase that all or part of their cottage was built on land that does not belong to them.

Surrounding Area

Be aware of what is near your prospective rural property – are you surrounded by Crown land? Hydro towers? The town garbage dump?

Inspection of the Property

Every purchase should be conditional on a satisfactory professional home inspection. Especially given that most cottages are used only occasionally and may not have been maintained properly.

If the cottage has a wood stove make sure it passes the WETT inspection to confirm that the system was installed and operating correctly

Test the Water

There are two major areas of concern when it comes to water: quality and quantity. Does it pass local health department requirements?

Septic System

Ask for confirmation that the system was installed with permits, properly maintained and that the seller is not aware of any problems

Replacing a septic system can cost up to $20 000, especially if that are stringent environmental regulations in the area.


There are many areas that you need to be aware of when you are buying rural real estate in Ontario. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I will do my best to answer them or at least steer you in the right direction!

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  1. Bob PerryBob Perry02-22-2013

    Very well-written and informative blog.

    Well done!!!!

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